Are our children too old at 14 and 17 to settle and get a job in France

Hi I am a new member and would like to ask for advice as to whether it would be just too difficult to move to France.We have been holidaying in France for a number of years . As a family we love France but as in the title ,it is only now financially viable for us to move to France but as the kids are 14 and 17 is it unrealistic to ever expect them to be able to integrate and work in France. My wife and I would plan to semi retire with property rentals in the Uk and France so we will not look for employment. I should have said that the children have very little French .
Any advice is much appreciated thank you . It may be that we have to content ourselves with a holiday home.

Steve - without sounding flippant…how do you think people older than 14 / 17 cope? Many folk of all ages come to live and work in France - many with little or no language ability when they arrive. Many of them survive perfectly well. I guess it’s about will and motivation - it’s all doable but I guess they’ve got to want to!

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Steve… what do your kids do when they holiday in France…?? do they attempt to talk French…?? do they join in French activities… or stay “very English”… a bit apart ??

there has to be the will to do it…and that includes every member of the family.

Double check with each… what is their goal… re France…??

No reason why you and your family should not succeed, but you do all have to be touched with the same amount of enthusiasm/insanity.:wink:

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How long is a piece of string, Steve, what are their/your ambitions? 17 is a crucial age in French education with the bac just a year away so that one wouldn’t be a possibility, would you intend to continue in an international school? 14 year old may be ok if the motivation is there, it’ll be difficult to start with but perhaps enough time before the brevet and bac to get sorted (I’m sure Véro will chip in and give some excellent advice or look for similar posts here, there are many!)
In short, yes it’s possible but it isn’t going to be at all easy and may have a considerable effect on their futures - youth unemployment is very high in France with qualifications no longer guaranteeing a job, I don’t want to “pee on your bonfire” and you’ll get lots of good advice here, it boils down to being very realistic about the situation and their possibilities :wink:


Sorry, can’t comment on the ability of your children to adapt, but at those ages surely it would be better for them for finish their education in the UK. Buy a holiday home that you could possibly live in permanently, or better still spend all of your children’s holidays in different parts of France, in all seasons and in different types of property. It’s a big , big country and if you want your children to work here, to have any chance they must be able to speak French and live near a big city or town. Chances are, by the time they have finished their education they will make their own minds up, and it might not be what you want to hear.


I would recommend that you put your plans on hold until your children have completed their education in the UK. They will then be able to decide what path they wish to follow irrespective of your final plans. To move now would be a massive leap of faith. I know of several families who have lived abroad who have commented how much their children have thrived upon returning to the UK either when the family relocated or when they accepted a place at a UK university. The parents were fulfilled in France, the teenage children less do. Personally I much prefer living in France to the thought of living in the U.K. but my children have all, just about, finished with university and enjoy the freedom to choose where they want to live. For them at the moment that is the UK while they settle into their chosen careers although my youngest son might well be going to New Zealand for a year, he is currently going through the process to apply for the necessary visas and permits.
Your plans include having property both sides of the Channel and there is nothing to stop you finding a French property as soon as you can and use it to get to know the area you are moving to before you arrive lock, stock and barrel. Another huge advantage of putting the move on hold for a few years is that by then Brexit will have happened and everyone will have a much better idea about what effect it will really have on British citizens living in Europe.
If you had said your children were four and eight I would have said come as soon as you can.


I’d say that if you want them to have any academic qualifications then you should stay in the UK until they have done A levels and gone through the UCAS process. Professional qualifications here require a good grasp of French to succeed even at a very basic level, eg CAP.

There are international schools in France where you can do A levels, but for all sorts of reasons they aren’t as reliable as a good school in GB, especially for people who speak no French.

I’m sorry to sound so negative, but it is unrealistic to expect non-French-speaking people that age to do well at a normal school here, they will, unfortunately, end up with very little choice of what to do next and it isn’t something I would recommend at all.

I am sure you will have people telling you they haven’t passed an exam in their life and have done fine, but times have changed and especially in France you need paper qualifications to do pretty much anything.

I teach in lycée and have several children at various stages in the system, this is my opinion as both a teacher and as a parent.


Your children will find it very challenging going into a French school - though how well they cope, and whether in the end it turns out to be good for them, will depend on their personalities, abilities and indeed the schools.
We moved here 5 years ago when our youngest 3 were 12, 11 and 8 (the eldest had already gone to university). It was very hard for our 12-year-old son, and although he is now doing his BAC General S (the most academic option in France), he will probably also do English A-levels online (simply because his BAC score in French will not be high enough to get him into a top English-speaking university, whereas he probably will get 3 A-Level grade As) - this might be an option for your eldest, if s/he can work pretty independently.

I can’t help but agree that 17 is a difficult age to uproot a person if that person is at all reluctant to be uprooted. Leaving aside the very important academic issues, at 17 s/he is no longer a child, very nearly an adult, and forging his/her own identity and independence. Obviously it depends a lot on character and personality but a 17 year old who speaks next to no French might find it hard to make friends here quickly, especially since French 17 year olds will be under pressure to study hard for their bacs and the class will already have bonded over the years. In that situation any newcomer is going to feel an outsider to start with and some 17 year olds are very sensitive to peer acceptance and approval. The danger I see is that if you take a teenager away from an environment where they feel confident and secure with their mates, and put them into one where they feel they’ve lost their identity and become johnny (or jilly) no mates, they’re going to shut off and spend all their time on Facebook with mates in the UK and pining to go back and that’s no good. But, even if the 17 year old is very confident and self reliant and fully committed to the move I agree with other posters that you need to look at what qualifications they could realistically hope to get if you move them now, and what career path you see for them. Don’t just move and expect opportunities to present themselves once you’re here.

It just occurred to me that you would also need to think about healthcare for the older child because if you plan to join the state’s PUMA healthcare scheme, children can only be covered as your dependents up to the age of 18 (between the ages of 16 and 18 this is conditional on being in full time education or training) and after that they need to set up their own healthcare in their own right, which normally an 18 year old will qualify for either as a full-time student or as an employee/stagiaire or as a registered job seeker. I don’t know how this works for expats with dependent adult children, there must be a way but you would need to this find out. Of course if you’re going the private healthcare route there won’t be the same issue.

Viz healthcare, if you are working, your children can be covered by your ‘caisse’ (the body which provides different professions with social security cover) up to the age of 25.

Looks like there is wide spread advice from folk who do know what they are talking about…

So, would it be a problem to stay in UK where the education side of things works out best for the kids…could you still semi-retire?

However the OP said they will not be looking to work in France…

When we came here 15 yrs ago Steve, our kids were 9, 14 and 16. They all went straight into French schools. They didn’t have problems making friends. It was hardest for our 14yr old son as he couldn’t speqk French, din’t like it. We got him some private lessons and before you know it he was doing well. A lot depends on the child himself and his personality. So to cut a long story shoert, our eldest daughter went to local Lycee, stayed till she was 18, then left and went to live with her French boyfriend. We were not happy…no job…no qualifications. 1 year later she got an apprenticeship with a top florist. Qualified and is now herself an excellant talented florist, still with the same boyfriend who is an accountant, 2 beautifull children later and expecting their 3rd. Our son finally went to a professional Lycee to become an electrician, once again qualified and now is an excellant electrician, has never gone a day with out work and has very high qualifications. Our yougest went into French primary school, college, decided she didnt want to do Lycee, she went to a private school to become a hairdresser and now has her own shop. All3 of ourkids are very intelligent, but did not want to go down the university, years of studying route. It is not for everyone. They wanted to be out there working and earning. They are all now completely fluent in French…to the point that between themselves they only speak French. It is a gamble you have to take. We believed we were doing the right thing for our family and have never regretted that decision. Kids are more resilient than you think. At the end of the day it is your decision, you have to take a chance. The kids migh hate you for a couple of months lol but they’ll get over it. As I said our 3 are all working, all with French partners. Sometimes you have to take a gamble in life.


Oh, please excuse spelling mistakes, tablet playing up

Bonjour Steve:

Unemployment in France in the 16 - 25 age range is 25% and has been for years; overall it is around 10%.

There is a reason why London has a high population of young, well-educated French people; there is a reason why those young immigrant people are desperate to get to the UK, that is where the jobs are… France is where the jobs are not.

It is less a matter of whether your children can integrate than whether they can find a job. If you decide to relocate, where you go will be determined where jobs are most likely to be, which will be in big towns and cities not in rural, holiday locations.

Hope that helps.

That’s a bit of a generalisation. I have French cousins who live in the north of France. They are well educated and secure in their home town. They are all bilingual. We have often talked about living and working abroad because that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. They have never shown any interest in working in the UK, France is where they were born, where their family, friends and roots are. Those in my generation are comfortably placed, more so by far than many of my friends who remained all their lives in the south west of England who have been trapped by soaring property prices and limited incomes. Yes, a lot of French people work in London, Frankfurt and Madrid but lots of British people work all over the world as well. To say that the jobs are in England there are none in France is very misleading.

I did not say there are no jobs in France, I quoted the unemployment figures as an indication that finding work in France for young people is not easy.

The overall unemployment rate in the UK is less than half that in France. It is therefore going to be easier to get a job in the UK than France.

I thought this was well know - apparently not.

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Of course there are jobs in France. But I don’t think anyone would deny that unemployment is a far bigger problem in France than in the UK. Hollande’s big election promise was to reduce unemployment and it’s actually got worse during his time in office. Currently at 9.7% national average, with significant regional variations. As compared to 4.8% in the UK. With French job seekers in France at an advantage over non French, and an even bigger advantage over non French speakers.

“UK, that is where the jobs are… France is where the jobs are not.”

Why did you write that then? I presumed that you were writing what you meant to say. As I wrote before your post is a generalisation. Why didn’t you just say unemployment is higher in France without the embellishment?
Personally I don’t give much credit to headline unemployment rates. In the U.K. millions have been forced into self employment and as a result earn so little the Exchequer’s revenue has been reduced. This group are not protected by even the simplest employment laws like minimum wage. Unemployment figures down but at what cost?